Oh my word! Furniture flippers – have you discovered Iron Orchid Design transfers??? This is the latest trend in painted furniture looks! The very talented ladies behind these easy to use transfers have made adding charm and personality to the plainest piece of furniture so easy!! And fun!! What is an Iron Orchid Design transfer, you ask?? It’s like on of those rub-on stickers we used to use in elementary school. Remember taking the sticker and using a popsicle stick to rub it on to a surface? That’s pretty much what these transfers are – but way more beautiful, bigger and adaptable to just about any project I can think of. Iron Orchid Design has given us a simple technique with GORGEOUS vintage inspired designs. No wonder they are so popular!!
I recently completed my first project with one of their transfers! I took a vintage dresser and made it awesome!! Let’s look at how I did this beautiful transformation! As you can see, it started out as a pretty standard dresser I picked up at a recent yard sale.
The veneer was in pretty good shape – it just needed a bit of gluing and clamping to adhere it where it had separated on the top drawer. Once that dried, I gave the dresser a vacuum inside and out and washed it down with TSP. It was REALLY dirty, so a good cleaning removed any wax build-up and grunge. Cleaning with TSP is an essential step when I’m refurbishing a piece like this.
The next step was to give the piece a “scuff sanding” with some fine sandpaper just to give the finish a bit of “tooth”. I use a 220 grit sandpaper and it just dulls the service enough for ANY paint to adhere better. I’ve made the switch to Fusion Mineral Paint and absolutely love it’s matte finish and ease to apply. This piece was painted with two coats of FMP in Raw Silk – a soft antique white perfect for the Iron Orchid Design transfer to be the star of the show.
It’s always been my signature look to distress the pieces I paint. So before adding the transfer, I took some time to give the new paint a more rustic look. A bit of 220 sandpaper scuffed the edges of the drawers and a heavier (100?) grit added some roughness around the drawer pulls. By the way, I usually try to re-use the original drawer pulls and handles if possible. After all, that’s what the original furniture designer had in mind. I soak them overnight in a mixture of water, vinegar and a bit of dish soap to get rid of any grime. I love the patina of an old handle. Can’t help it.
Now for the fun part – applying the transfer!! Follow the directions on the box to achieve the optimum finish – it’s really just a matter of rubbing the transfer from the “carrier sheet” on to your piece with the simple applicator they provide. But here’s a few tips I learned on the way.
- Don’t think you need to use the entire transfer on your piece. Cut it to the size you want and keep any extra design elements for another project. The transfer I used here (Autumn Catalogue) was 30″ x 40″ which was a bit bit. So I cut off the bottom 12″ to make it fit the dresser proportionately. Now I have another piece that I can use somewhere else.
- Let your piece dry overnight to make sure that the paint is completely dry. It’s not in the instructions and I haven’t seen it recommended anywhere. But for me, it’s a good safety measure so that I don’t mess up my paint job.
- Make sure that the little applicator stick is in the box. If for some reason it’s lost, you can use a tongue depressor, clean paint stick, a popsicle stick (for smaller projects) or even a credit card.
- Since I was working on a vertical surface, I recommend using painters tape to adhere the transfer sheet to your piece. It stops it from sliding around and smudging the design.
- If you are working on a dresser or something else that has drawers, make sure that the drawers are correctly lined up so that there is no break in the design.
- Start rubbing on the transfer from the centre out.
- Take your time! The more careful you are with the transferring process, the clearer your design will be. But hey, if there’s a bit missing on the design it just adds to the vintage look of the piece (in my humble opinion).
- You will be able to tell it the transfer has moved from the sheet to your piece when the lettering becomes cloudy looking.
- If your piece has a raised element (like the molding applied to the drawer front on my piece above), you may find that the transfer sheet won’t get into the nooks and crannies. Don’t worry, you can just rub the design on with your finger once you remove the sheet if it’s a bit lifted. That helped adhere the “C” in the word “Catalogue” to the molded piece. And if you look closely in the above photo, you’ll see that it even cracked a bit – I LOVE IT!!
The final step for my dresser was to give it a light coating of Homestead House Finishing Wax. This is actually not a step that needs to be done when using Fusion Mineral Paint. Fusion paint has a built-in top coat that means you don’t have to “seal” the paint with wax. But I love it’s buttery texture so much, I’ve become addicted to it!!
So the next time you want to take a plain piece and give it a personality, try an Iron Orchid Design transfer. Your Plain Jane dresser will be the belle of the ball!!